A good diagnostician is an infallible guide when the doctor is in doubtJanuary 6, 2020
The right diagnosis of the disease is the most critical part of the treatment, and in this process, the role of a diagnostician is of the highest importance. Even though tests and other laboratory processes have been almost fully automated and all labs can produce the same results, what makes one stand out is the ability to interpret the results with utmost clarity when the doctor is in doubt. In other words, the doctor should feel confident that he or she can just pick up the phone and talk to someone in the lab to reconfirm the findings in its accurate sense or to get the right answer to help reach the best decision.
In today’s context, when most diagnostic investigations are automated, standardised reagents are used for tests and the accreditation process has brought in standardised laboratory practices, there isn’t much to differentiate one lab from another as far as the production of the report is concerned. But what makes the difference is the comfort level of the doctor with the pathologist or radiologist to get the report interpreted in an unambiguous manner on the specifics that are vital for taking a decision. In such circumstances, a good diagnostician can’t afford to go wrong either.
The doctors are asking for the report, because it is a tool for them to zero in on a particular diagnosis and take a proper decision on the treatment course. So, a diagnostician’s job is to provide this tool, which meaningfully serves the purpose. For example, if I provide an ambiguous report and the doctor is not able to understand the same, it will make no real sense to him and will result in either a missed diagnosis or just an unnecessary expense for the patient.
There are already concerns among the patients that the modern-day doctors are excessively dependent on laboratory tests and investigations, instead of using their clinical investigation skills. Clinical investigation is fine, as it helps the doctor make a diagnosis based on his skills and experience, but it is also true that they often miss several critical signs, which could be detrimental. Though technology- and machine-led investigations have taken care of such issues and provided the scope for much more specific results with minute details, a close rapport between the doctor and the diagnostician is always important in quality care. This communication often leads to the best patient outcomes. On the other hand, the diagnostician also has an equal responsibility when there is an adverse outcome.
— As told to CH Unnikrishnan